Treatment depends on the type of stone and the severity of your symptoms.
Kidney stones that are small most often pass through your system on their own.
- Your urine should be strained so the stone can be saved and tested.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to produce a large amount of urine. This will help the stone pass.
- Pain can be very bad. Over-the-counter pain medicines (for example, ibuprofen and naproxen), either alone or along with narcotics, can be very effective.
Some people with severe pain from kidney stones need to stay in the hospital. You may need to get fluids through an IV into your vein.
For some types of stones, your provider may prescribe medicine to prevent stones from forming or help break down and remove the material that is causing the stone. These medicines can include:
- Allopurinol (for uric acid stones)
- Antibiotics (for struvite stones)
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Phosphate solutions
- Sodium bicarbonate or sodium citrate
- Water pills (thiazide diuretics)
- Tamsulosin to relax the ureter and help the stone pass
Surgery is often needed if:
- The stone is too large to pass on its own.
- The stone is growing.
- The stone is blocking urine flow and causing an infection or kidney damage.
- The pain cannot be controlled.
Today, most treatments are much less invasive than in the past.
- Lithotripsy is used to remove stones slightly smaller than one half an inch (1.25 centimeters) that are located in the kidney or ureter. It uses sound or shock waves to break up stones into tiny fragments. Then, the stone fragments leave the body in the urine. It is also called extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy or ESWL.
- Procedures performed by passing a special instrument through a small surgical cut in your skin on your back and into your kidney or ureters are used for large stones, or when the kidneys or surrounding areas are incorrectly formed. The stone is removed with a tube (endoscope).
- Ureteroscopy may be used for stones in the lower urinary tract. A laser is used to break up the stone.
- Rarely, open surgery (nephrolithotomy) may be needed if other methods do not work or are not possible.
You will need to take self-care steps. Which steps you take depend on the type of stone you have, but they may include:
- Drinking extra water and other liquids
- Eating more of some foods and cutting back on other foods
- Taking medicines to help prevent stones
- Taking medicines to help you pass a stone (anti-inflammatory drugs, alpha-blockers)